Truthfully, Kyoto has got to be one of the most beautiful cities i have ever been to. Kyoto is Japan’s seventh largest city and it encompasses exceptional historic value.
From our B&B in Hakone, we took an hour bus ride to Odawara Station; activated our 7-day JR pass to catch the bullet train (Shinkansen) to Kyoto. I had never seen a bullet train before and i now understand clearly why it’s called a ‘bullet train’…. Besides the very much conspicuous reason, the train will vanish within a blink of an eye. There are a few types of bullet train and the Japan Railway Pass covers everything but the Nozomi. Nozomi is the fastest bullet train in comparison to the others (Kodama, Sakura, etc).
Before you could board on the shinkansen, you must activate your JR pass at any JR stations you could find beforehand. It is free of charge and you can do it before you board the train on the same day.
If you are in a big group and would like some sort of certainty to be seated together, you could reserve your seats at the JR station too. There, they will hand you the seat numbers, the allocated car and the time of your departure. You do not even have to pay extra for such service. If you do not feel like booking the seats, that’s alright too, in fact, that’s better. It is because reserved cars are usually at the other end of the train and you might have to walk a bit to get there. There are three cars meant for unreserved seating. As long as there are seats available, they’re yours. You could just board the train anytime you wish. Fortunately, the seats have enough space for you to put your luggage in front but it could be an excruciating experience if your luggage is massive because you can’t quite stretch your legs.
It took us almost three hours to get to Kyoto Station. You could see the majestic Mount Fuji from the window seats too. It was stunning. Once we arrived in Kyoto, we heaved our luggage across the streets and checked into our next hotel, El Inn Kyoto. It was located directly in front of the East side of the station and the location was unbeatable (which was the predominant reason why i had booked it). However, the hotel room, is hands down, the smallest space i have ever been to and the bathtub… the.bath.tub. Maybe it is meant for baby baths. But then again, the location is incredible. You are just a few stops away from everywhere you would possibly want to go and for that, I would totally consider going back to El inn Kyoto.
3-DAY ITINERARY IN KYOTO
This shall be my much suggested 3- day itinerary if you ever find yourself in Kyoto.
- Upon arrival, you could check in and rest for the day. I understand the journey can be exhausting especially when you are coming all the way from Tokyo.
- Take a rest, you could wander around your hotel if you wish. You can have lunch at Kyoto Station. The best sushi restaurant that i have ever been to would be the Musashi Sushi. My brother and I kept on going there for lunch and dinner because it was just that good. Fresh, scrumptious and the best part is it’s totally reasonably priced. You might have to queue for a bit if you choose to go during the peak hour but it is all worth it.
- If you are hankering for an adventure and could not wait for tomorrow for it, you could make your way to Fushimi Inari Taisha in the evening. If you are truly up for an adventure, you could hike all the way up the mountain but my legs and heart and life sort off failed on me after i reached a quarter of the mountain. The hike to the summit of the mountain could easily take about 2 – 3 hours. The higher you get, the lesser crowd it would be. Therefore, good photos! Do it for the gram loves.
- Later that night, you could hang out at the Pontocho alley for dinner. It has bars, restaurants and shops and most of the restaurants are overlooking the Kamogawa River. Perfect for catching a breather.
- Have breakfast at Nishiki Market. This is where you could find the incredible street food, consume dozens of incredible Matcha Soft Serves, shop for those amazingly delicious fruits and souvenirs. Talking about it makes me sad because i have yet to find a good soft serve in Malaysia. You must try the roasted matcha soft serve. It is the best!
- Afterward, head to the Ginkaku-ji (The Silver Temple). We bought the Kansai-Thru pass which is very handy if you are in Kansai area (Osaka, Nara, etc) and used it to get on a free shuttle all the way up to Ginkaku-ji. This is where we stopped to eat these wonderful steaks that i could still taste in my mouth. A small stall located right at the entrance.
- The Philosopher’s path starts right in front of the Silver Temple. I reckon, it would be more beautiful during the sakura season. It was a peaceful walk for me. In Malay, we call it ‘longkang’ and i believe, you could actually find a beautiful drainage canal only in Japan. The water was crystal clear and you could see koi fish in the drainage canal. It was quite a long walk down though. But you could always stop to take a breather or if you do not fancy walking, you could always hop on the free bus.
- It would take about 20 minutes for you to get to Nanzenji temple. You could check out the view from the Sanmon Gate.
- Walk further down, and you’ll find yourself at the Keage Incline. A defunct railway track. A great photo spot during autumn and cherry blossom season. Especially the cherry blossom season.
- Take the same bus to Gion, the most famous Geisha district. If you are lucky, you could spot one!
- Walk down to Ishibei Koji street for samurais and geishas. You can have street food at Ninenzaka.
- Last but not least, catch Kiyomizudera during sunset!
- Start early in the morning and head to Arashiyama Station. You could get on the Sagano Scenic Railway (Which i totally recommend) for the best view during autumn and cherry blossom to get to the Bamboo Grove. However, you must book in advance!
- The one way ticket costs 620 yen (about MYR 22) for adults.
- Next stop, Bamboo Grove.
- You can explore the temples and if you choose to hike up you’ll find yourself at the beautiful Okacho Sanso villa.
- Explore the Jojakko-ji Temple.
- If you are still doing fine, catch Kinkaku-ji (Golden Hour) during sunset! It might be quite off the track but it is completely worthwhile.
Photo by thetruejapan.com
Me, trying to blend in with the locals who were mostly wearing Kimonos and Yukatas.
(Photo by JRailpass)
I hope you’ll love the itinerary. Kyoto is truly beautiful. If you have not been there yet, perhaps, you should consider making it as your next destination.